Safety culture assessment & organisational development

Improving patient safety requires the development of an organisational culture that will support safety and quality improvement.

Safety is not a static concept that exists within an organisation, but is something dynamic that an organisation actively creates every day.

Safety culture is about the way people work together to deliver safe care. Good safety culture in general should make the organisation less vulnerable to adverse events and accidents. An organisation that understands safety to be a dynamic concept will be more robust and better equipped to prevent and manage adverse events.

Systematically assessing safety culture can be crucial in identifying problematic areas, and providing insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the current state of an organisation.
DNV has extensive experience of assessing safety culture in high risk industries such as transport, maritime and oil & gas. Using this knowledge and expertise our healthcare researchers combined survey and interview methods to develop a safety culture assessment tool. This innovative approach was tested in UK and international hospitals with great success.
What does our safety culture assessment involve? We can survey the whole organisation, or if you would prefer individual services or units. If your preference is to have the whole organisation surveyed, then the survey results will be used to select units to interview.  
  • You select the unit(s) to assess.
  • We survey the hospital or selected unit(s) using the Safety Attitudes Questionnaire (SAQ), a tool validated for use in healthcare in the UK, US and New Zealand (answers will be anonymous). We analyse the data.
  • We interview individual clinical staff about perceptions, behaviours and attitudes in the selected unit(s) (responses will be confidential). Each interview will last about 30-45 minutes.
  • We analyse the survey and interview results.

The findings are discussed in a workshop with relevant senior and unit managers, patient safety champions, and other relevant staff, to engage them to develop an action plan for improvement. The workshop will be facilitated by DNV.

As safety culture can be a sensitive issue, we make all the data anonymous, and our independence means we can take an objective role in facilitating discussions and learning.   Sustained improvements to quality and safety
The 2013 publication ‘A promise to learn – a commitment to act: Improving the safety of patients in England’ from Don Berwick states "In the end, culture will trump rules, standards and control strategies every single time, and achieving a vastly safer NHS will depend far more on major cultural change than on a new regulatory regime". To make sustained improvements to quality and safety, organisations need to understand their safety culture and where necessary make improvements to it.   DNV’s safety culture assessment will assist your organisation to:

  • Systematically identify areas for improvement
  • Identify tangible areas to focus on for organisational development
  • Provide a forum for direct staff engagement and input to patient safety improvement efforts
  • Target improvement activities, which are in line with NHS England’s priorities for capacity/capability building and transformational change
Working in partnership with you we will help you to produce an action plan detailing clear improvement targets. Repeated assessments will enable your organisation to demonstrate improved performance which will assist in meeting commissioning requirements.